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On Canaan's Side | [Sebastian Barry]

On Canaan's Side

At once epic and intimate, the story of Lilly Bere unfurls as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, from Dublin at the end of the First World War to Lilly's life in the new world of America, it is a novel of memory, war, family ties, and love.
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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011

At once epic and intimate, the story of Lilly Bere unfurls as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, from Dublin at the end of the First World War to Lilly's life in the new world of America, it is a novel of memory, war, family ties, and love.

©2011 Sebastian Barry (P)2011 W F Howes Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (36 )
5 star
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4.3 (7 )
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4.4 (7 )
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  •  
    Declan Tervuren, Belgium 25/08/2011
    Declan Tervuren, Belgium 25/08/2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    5
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    "Beautifully written story"

    Sebastian Barry really is one of the great authors of our age, coming that fine tradition of Anglo Irish writing his wordcraft is simply beautiful. This book is well deserving of it's Booker nomination and must be a potential winner.

    As with his previous book, The Secret Scripture, this book deals with memories of an elderly Irish woman looking back over her life.. including acts of terrorism, murder, explosions, deceit, multiple wars, racism, emigration and more.. the book spreads the story across Ireland and America and sheds a light on the oft forgotten side of Irish history, the "loyal Irish".

    This historical novel wraps several real events (eg the Cleveland Gas Explosion of 1944) into the story which really captures the interest. It reminds me somewhat of Dennis Lehane's A Given Day, although it is more personal and less epic in it's sweep..and significantly shorter!

    The story is read well by an Irish American actress who sucessfully captures the voice of the young and old characters alike.

    If you are fan of Sebastian Barry's books this is definitely for you, if you a new to him it is a great introduction, familiarity with US or Irish history is not a prerequisite.. just jump in and enjoy!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Athens, Greece 22/02/2013
    Jane Athens, Greece 22/02/2013 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Worth persevering"

    Unlike a couple of the reviewers above, who were instantly captivated by this book, I found it hard going at first, and almost gave up. The first hour or more is very descriptive and it's difficult to get a handle on what is going on, or has happened in the past. Yes, it's beautifully written, and certainly beautifully read, and if that's enough for you, you will indeed love it from the beginning. However, by the second hour, when some sense of a story begins to develop, it gets a lot better, and with some idea of where it's going you can appreciate the writing even more. I enjoyed it very much by the end, and consider it definitely worth persevering with.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeline York, United Kingdom 11/02/2012
    Madeline York, United Kingdom 11/02/2012 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    85
    39
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    "A good listen"

    This is beautifully, if a bit exuberantly, read, with excellent characterisation and accents. It is a short book to deal with a whole long lifetime and so is superficial in many ways. I didn't feel that I ever knew much about the internal life of the central character, just that she had loved and lost and endured and was a good cook. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it as a good story, although I preferred The Secret Scripture which I read as a book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Morpeth, United Kingdom 31/08/2011
    Patrick Morpeth, United Kingdom 31/08/2011 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Achingly, poetically beautiful"

    I realised I loved this within minutes, told friends about it and then hoped it wasn't going to disappoint, it didn't. Dazzling images, breathtaking apercus , a great story and joy and sadness rolled into one as if it was not fiction but the diary of a soul.I am happy to have read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amelia 14/07/2013
    Amelia 14/07/2013

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    86
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    "Sadness Joy Loss & gain wrapped in word poetry"

    What can I say about Sebastian Barry that hasn't already been said. I came to this book having read The Secret Scripture and finding it beyond wonderful.
    This is a story of Lilly told when she was an old lady and remembering clearly and not so clearly at times her life and loves and great losses. She travelled through so much of the history of the time being affected by it although she was a gentle person who never seemed to harm anyone. It was so movingly told and the narrative by Grainne Gillis was just right. I liked the way that sometimes the author hinted at and did not totally reveal everything letting the reader interpret for themselves. I was sad to say goodbye to Lilly at the end but glad I shared her journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Belinda Dollar, United Kingdom 22/07/2012
    Belinda Dollar, United Kingdom 22/07/2012 Member Since 2008
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    "I loved this!"

    This book was recommended by one of my friends for our next book group meeting and I was hooked from the start. The quality of the narration added greatly to the atmosphere and the story proved to be the perfect companion for long car journey from England to Scotland. I can't wait to download his other novels.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Davies 27/03/2012 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding ...."

    ........... in every way. This writer is so gifted; memorable characters, clever plot, recognisable emotions and brilliant story telling. I was captivated from start to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Penny Compton Martin, United Kingdom 09/12/2011
    Penny Compton Martin, United Kingdom 09/12/2011 Member Since 2010
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    13
    5
    Overall
    "Poetic, rivetting"

    I loved this book. The language itself is a pleasure to listen to, brought up as I was on the assumption that shorter sentences without subclauses are best. I also loved Grainne Gillis' reading. My best ever experience on Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Cumbria, UK 25/08/2011
    Kindle Customer Cumbria, UK 25/08/2011 Member Since 2009

    Peter

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hard Work"

    I found this hard work to listen to and gave up after the first hour.
    I thought it was a rather rambling story with no structure.
    The story starts with the reminiscences of an elderly Irish woman. It failed to draw me in or interest me in what was to follow.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-9 of 9 results
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  • Margaret
    Parkdale, Australia
    06/12/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "For me .... disappointing"

    I found it very hard to listen to. I was not at all engaged with the story. The narration was pleasant enough - but the book was not to my likeing. I think it is a personal preference (or lack thereof) rather than a bad book. However, I will not be rushing off to buy more Sebastian Barry books. Remember, my taste is not the same as everyone else - so do not be afraid to buy and try if the synopsis appeals.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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